Freed from Marxist rebels in Colombia’s jungle Wednesday, Betancourt went on Colombian radio to tell the remaining hostages French President Nicolas Sarkozy had “pledged to keep working for their release,” her sister Astrid told AFP.The former presidential candidate made the address from her Paris hotel on a night-time radio slot reserved for hostages’ families, where her mother had sent her daily messages of support.Betancourt, who has dual French-Colombian nationality, was given a clean bill of health after medical tests at a Paris military hospital Saturday.On Sunday she retreated from the media glare with her newly-reunited family, joining a private lunch with former prime minister Dominique de Villepin, who taught her at university and who campaigned for her release, her sister said.Betancourt told AFP she planned to attend mass at the Sacre-Coeur Basilica in Paris’ Montmartre district later in the day.She has repeatedly spoken of her Catholic faith as a powerful solace during her six years in captivity — three of them spent chained up night and day — saying: “The spirit helps you to carry on.”According to an Elysee source, Sarkozy has invited Betancourt to attend France’s Bastille Day celebrations on July 14, although she has yet to confirm her attendance.Sarkozy has also nominated her for the Legion of Honour, France’s highest distinction, the source said.The 46-year-old said in an interview published Sunday she planned to “return to Colombia in a few days” and would write a play about her six-year hostage ordeal.”When I was in captivity, I said to myself: ‘People need to understand this, but I can’t just write it down the way it happened. So I’ll write a play. That way I will show people what they need to feel’.”After her tests Saturday Betancourt said she was “very, very surprised” not to have any physical side-effects from her ordeal at the hands of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).Snatched from the rebels’ grip in a Colombian army operation on Wednesday along with three US hostages and 11 Colombians, Betancourt was flown to Paris on a government plane and greeted by President Nicolas Sarkozy.Bogota says the 15 captives were rescued after Colombian soldiers posing as rebels arrived at a FARC jungle hideout and tricked the guerrillas into handing them over, ostensibly to be transferred to another rebel site.But Colombia has been forced onto the defensive following a Swiss report saying the bloodless operation was arranged in advance with the help of 20 million dollars (12.7 million euros) paid to bribe the hostages’ guards.To counter the claims, Colombia’s military has released a video showing the hostages sobbing with relief aboard a helicopter upon discovering they had been freed.Defence Minister Juan Manuel Santos also strongly denied that any foreign nationals had taken part in the operation, as claimed by the attorney of one of the FARC members taken prisoner in the rescue.In her interview on France 3, Betancourt said she did not believe the local commander was paid to hand over the hostages.”When I saw him on the ground with his hands and feet tied and his eyes blindfolded, the expression on his face, on his mouth, it was not of someone who had been bought. He was mortified,” she said (AFP)
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